Author's Note: In this universe, Mickey and Pete were the ones who were trapped on the wrong side of the void and the Doctor finally came to his senses when he almost lost Rose.
Disclaimer: I do not own anything in relation to Dr. Who.
You might recognize the planet and inside joke from The Morning After in the Forever After series. Hint: read the name of the planet backwards to discover its special meaning. :)
The Doctor jerks Rose to a sudden stop deep in the woods and looks back over his shoulder. He breathes in a sigh of relief and says, "I think we can stop running now."
Rose collapses against the nearest tree trying to catch her breath. "Honestly, Doctor! We wouldn't have had to run at all if you hadn't created such a scene!"
The Doctor is the picture of innocence when he asks Rose, "What do you mean?"
Rose huffs in exasperation. "Doctor! Does it really need saying?"
"Well, what did you expect me to do, Rose?" shouts the Doctor. "Our first night out together as a couple and that waiter has the nerve to flirt and hang all over you!"
Rose rolls her eyes as she replies, "He wasn't flirting with me, Doctor! He was taking my order!"
The Doctor snorts in disgust. "Your order. Yeah, right. He asked you if you liked it long and thick!"
All of the fight goes out of Rose when she hears this statement and she struggles to hold back her laughter. "He was referring to the cut of my steak. It's one of their house specialties. They prepare it any way that I prefer."
The Doctor stares at Rose completely dumbfounded, and squeaks, "Really?"
Rose crosses her arms over her chest while wearing a smirk that threatens to turn into a smile. The Doctor sputters, "Oh. Well." He rubs the back of his neck and throws a look of abashment her way.
He clears his throat and tries to retain what's left of his dignity. "Then they should do better to inform their new customers of that particular policy."
Rose watches in bemusement as he rocks back on his heels with his hands in his pockets while steadily avoiding her gaze. "They did," she replies. "The sign in their front window details that policy as well as a few others. I thought that's why you chose to eat there."
"Nooo," the Doctor drawls out while tugging on his ear. "That wasn't quite the reason." He gives a sheepish glance towards Rose. "I just thought it was the best choice. The only other eating establishment that I saw had their own sign in a window. It stated, "WE DON'T KILL IT UNTIL YOU ORDER IT. HONEST."
Rose burst into uncontrollable giggles and the Doctor quickly follows suit. Their laughter finally subsides enough for Rose to ask, "So, what do we do now? I'm still starving and it's a long way back to the TARDIS."
The Doctor stares off into the sky until his eyes light up with an idea. He unexpectedly removes his coat and lays it down onto the ground with a flourish. "Allow me, my lady." He then rummages around in his suit pockets until he draws out two bananas. "Our feast awaits us."
He holds out his right hand and wiggles his fingers at her. She smiles wide and shakes her head at his antics but still places her hand in his, as if there had ever been any other choice.
The Doctor gives Rose an aside glance and asks about everyone back on Earth. "So, how are your Mum and Pete doing?"
Rose grins and replies ecstatically, "They're doing great! The way they are with each other, you'd think that they were the Jackie and Pete who were always meant to be together. Who knows? Maybe they were."
The Doctor looks over at Rose curiously and inquires, "Has anybody on the Powell Estates noticed that Jackie's living with an older version of Pete's double?"
Rose's voice takes on a sad tone as she answers, "No. There's not a lot of the old residents left after the Battle of Canary Wharf. If anyone has noticed, they've either been too polite or too shocked to say anything to any of us."
The Doctor gives Rose a sympathetic smile. "How's Pete taking the loss of Vitex and his fortune?"
Rose's trademark grin appears before stating, "It's funny, but losing his money doesn't really seem to be bothering him. He's taking it as a challenge to regain his wealth. He was a little disappointed at first that this world doesn't care as much for health drinks as it does energy drinks, but he didn't let that stop him."
She gives the Doctor a proud smile before she continues, "Pete re-worked his Vitex formula, put his salesmanship skills to good use and made a deal with a local company to test market Loca-Cola."
She imitates Pete's famous Vitex smile, wink and thumbs up pose while reciting, "It makes you crazy with energy!"
The Doctor laughs out loud while slapping his knee. "Well, good on Pete! I'm glad that they're both doing so well. And, how's our Mr. Mickey settling back in then?"
Rose smiles as she recalls their last phone call. "He's doing great too! Jack signed him on at Torchwood and he told me that he's started dating a girl who might be the one. Her name is Martha Jones and she's studying to be a doctor. I can't wait to meet her.
The Doctor wonders aloud, "What is it with all of my last incarnation's companions falling for doctors?"
Rose laughs in response and says, "I'm assuming by that statement that you're including Jack as well. You said that he looked so sad when you told him that this vacation was just for the two of us."
The Doctor shot Rose a wry look. "Jack has enough on his plate helping rebuild things after Canary Wharf. Besides, he was very understanding when I told him that it was better with two." He gives her a sly wink.
Rose's hand flies to her mouth to smother her laughter. "Oh, no! You didn't tell him that, did you? He must have been heartbroken. You know how much he loves threesomes."
The Doctor's bark of laughter rings out into the night. Eventually, he turns to Rose with a somber gaze and declares, "So, that just leaves you. How long have you known, Rose?"
She doesn't turn away from his unflinching stare and her voice refuses to waver in her reply. "It was after you defeated the Sycorax, when I would visit the TARDIS while you were still recuperating at Mum's. The TARDIS told me then."
The Doctor's voice is filled with a mixture of anger and hurt when he questions, "And why didn't either of you tell me?"
Rose pushes aside her own guilt and quickly responds, "At first I was scared, it was all so overwhelming. Everything changed all at once and I needed time to take it all in. The TARDIS understood that. Not to mention the fact that you were still recovering from regenerating. I didn't want to burden you."
At this point, the Doctor's anger won out. "Burden? I wouldn't call informing me that Bad Wolf is permanently a part of you and that you're tied to my life span a burden, Rose Tyler! I would call it my right!" In a guilty, more hushed tone, he whispers, "My responsibility."
The Doctor turns away from Rose and looks out at the sky. Rose's eyes glisten with unshed tears as she studies his silhouette. "That's just it, Doctor. Don't you see? I don't want to be your responsibility. I want to be your choice."
The Doctor swings his head back towards her in bewilderment. "What are you talking about?"
Rose's answer is heartfelt and earnest. "Doctor, practically every day you have to make a choice that affects everyone else. Whether it's saving a person, a planet or a universe, you make a choice on everyone else's behalf to benefit their lives. Just once, I wanted you to choose something that you wanted that was just for you and not for anyone else."
The Doctor stares at her disbelievingly, completely astounded by her words. "But Rose, how can you think…how could you not…I thought you knew."
He takes hold of one of her hands, his other hand cradling her cheek and he declares, "I already made that choice a long time ago. When I took your hand in Henrik's basement and I said, 'Run'. That was my choice. Just for me and not to be shared with anyone else. I've never looked back and I've never regretted it. I chose you back then, Rose. I still do."
Rose's face, alight with joy and love, answer all of the Doctor's fears and doubts but one. "Rose, you've known about this for awhile, but have you really come to terms with watching everyone you love around you die as you're forced to go on?"
Rose's face saddens at this prospect but it's not as if it's something that she hasn't been thinking about on her own. "I know it will be hard and to be honest, I'm not looking forward to losing Mum and Mickey and now, Pete. But I'm going to have you and Jack to see me through it. We'll work through it together, Doctor, just like we always do."
Rose takes the Doctor's face in both of her hands and vows, "You're worth all of the pain. I meant what I said before. I'm never going to leave you. You may have thought it was just wishful thinking, but I never would have promised you forever if it wasn't a promise that I couldn't fulfill."
The Doctor suddenly pulls Rose tight against him, pressing kisses against her temple and into her hair while murmuring repeatedly, "Thank you, my Rose. Thank you."
Rose manages to loosen the Doctor's grip enough so that she can lean back to look in his eyes and ask, "For what?"
"For coming with me, coming back for me and for staying with me. For just…everything."
Rose squeals in delight and throws her arms around the Doctor's neck as he picks them both up off of the ground and spins her around, laughing the entire time. Once they both catch their breath, the Doctor flashes a manic grin and offers, "Now Rose Tyler, where would you like to go next? Anywhere in time and space, just say the word."
Rose replies, "Well, before we leave Owthtiwretteb, I'd like to pick up some of the jewelry we saw in the market stalls earlier for Mum. Other than that, I want you to decide where we go to next. There must be someplace that you've always wanted to visit, somewhere just for you."
The Doctor's surprise is only momentary as he verifies, "Just for me?"
Rose cuddles in his embrace and murmurs, "Yeah."
She misses his wolfish grin as he responds by kissing her temple and inquiring, "How about there?" Then he kisses her cheek. "Or there?" He finally reaches her mouth. "No. Definitely there."
Time loses all meaning for them as they slowly lower themselves onto the Doctor's coat and give way to the love and passion that they had denied each other for so long.
It was exquisite. It was sweet, slow, passionate and tender. It was more than either had dreamed of and beyond anything that they could have hoped for before now. It was the Doctor and Rose Tyler lost in the moment. And it was fantastic. Just as it should be.